The MED This Week newsletter provides expert analyses and informed comments on the most significant developments in the MENA region and beyond, bringing together unique opinions on the topic and reliable foresight on future scenarios. Today, we focus on the cost and consequences of the US withdrawal Afghanistan, with an exclusive interview with Gen. John R. Allen, president of the Brookings Institution and former commander of the NATO International Security Assistance Force and US Forces in Afghanistan.
As the last C-17 cargo jets left the Kabul airport, today — August 31st  — marks the end of the two-decades long American occupation of Afghanistan, now newly under Taliban control. The steady escalation of the Afghan crisis, with images of the chaotic withdrawal of troops and civilians, will be firmly etched in the international collective consciousness for a long time. US President Joe Biden has defended his responsibility for making a “difficult yet correct decision” at a moment of historical shifts in global geopolitics. Despite the non-patronage for laying the foundations for a conclusive end to the US (and NATO)’s 20-year long military presence, his administration’s failure to foresee the Afghan government’s structural weaknesses — combined with the mismanagement of evacuation operations and the lack of coordination with allies (essential in such a situation) — has left an indelible mark on the US’ international credibility. “A new chapter of America’s engagement with Afghanistan has begun,” stated the US secretary of state Anthony Blinken. “It is one in which we will lead with our diplomacy. The military mission is over”. Nonetheless, as the 20th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, the country American personnel has left is far different from the international community’s early expectations. As Afghanistan is once again almost entirely under Taliban control, months of deadly fighting across the country and rising uncertainty around their rule leave dire prospects for the country’s stability and the future of its population.

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